One thing social isolation has taught us is that we’re really bad at being alone. We can handle it for short periods, but isolation cuts against the grain over the long haul.
We shouldn’t be surprised. Humans are bonding mammals. Research has shown that one of our most important drives is for connection. It’s why one of the first things everyone did when we moved to social isolation was to identify our circle. Who would we maintain physical connection with? Where are the boundaries? How solid are those boundaries? Are we going to go inside to see mom and dad, or are we waving from the driveway?
If your most important job is to manage yourself through this crisis, you’re going to have to enlist a crew. You’ve already done this, whether you’ve known it or not. You have surrounded yourself with people, in both real-life and virtual circles.
But now it’s time to be intentional. Now it’s time to choose your crew for self-management. These are the people who will help you notice and be honest about your emotional reactions to the crisis. They’re the ones who will help you surface the story you’re telling yourself. They will encourage you in helpful habits instead of reinforcing escapism or panic or hoarding.
“I don’t have those people,” you may say. It’s time to hunt for them. It’s time to take a risk and ask someone you respect or even admire to be in your crew. They’ll be the ones who help you become your best self because of this crisis, not in spite of it. And yes, you can connect with them virtually.
You’re a bonding mammal. The people around you will shape you. They will help you do your most important job or they will help you go down in flames.